America's Changing Farmscape: A Study of Agricultural Tourism in Michigan


  • *We dedicate this article to Sandra Hill, who was an early and persuasive supporter of agritourism in Michigan. Sandy wore many “hats” well: farmer, state legislator (1/1993–12/1996), MDA employee, and agritourism activist. Many will miss her.
    This project was conducted jointly by researchers in the Geography Department of Western Michigan University and by the Michigan Department of Agriculture. Funding for the project was made possible through a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture. We are very grateful for this support. We also wish to thank the editor and the four anonymous reviewers whose comments significantly improved this article.


Agricultural tourism incorporates visits to farms for the purposes of on-site retail purchases, enjoyment, and education. Long popular in the European Union (EU), agritourism is gaining popularity throughout the United States. Interest has grown as a result of stagnant grain prices, rising farm costs, and growing international competition. For rural areas seeking new economic options, the potential of these operations to generate new sources of income through sales and horizontal linkages to other tourism-based activities has sparked interest beyond the farm gate. This article, based on a survey and a statistical analysis of 300 agritourism operations in Michigan, summarizes factors associated with successful operations.